Hartford Alimony Lawyer


Alimony is spousal maintenance or support (as opposed to child support), which, in some cases, one party must pay to the other after the marriage. Courts use alimony to level the playing field, reducing economic disparities between the parties to achieve a fair and equitable outcome. In Connecticut there is no formula for alimony, as there is for child support. Alimony is uncommon in marriages of short duration, and where there is no economic disparity between the spouses. Alimony is gender neutral — either spouse can pay or receive alimony, depending on the circumstances of the case.

Mandatory Factors in Setting the Alimony Award

Courts are required by statute to consider the following factors: the length of the marriage, the causes for the breakdown of the marriage, and the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, and the estate and needs of each of the parties. In determining alimony, the court must also consider how the property is being divided, and whether or not it is in the best interests of the children for the parent with primary physical custody to work.

Tax Deductible for Payor, Taxable to Payee

Parties have an initial tendency to view alimony as a penalty, and, for that reason, alimony can be a difficult issue in negotiating a settlement. But there are advantages to paying alimony, especially in lieu of a property transfer, because alimony is tax deductible to the payor spouse. In that respect, alimony can be an important planning device, because it can shift taxable income to the lower earning spouse, thus decreasing the overall tax obligation.

Modification of Alimony

Even after the divorce judgment enters, an alimony award can be set aside, altered, or modified by a court upon a showing of a substantial change in the circumstances of either party, depending on the type of alimony. To do this, however, there must be some award of alimony at the time of the entry of the judgment. To allow for possible changes in the situation of the parties, courts often enter an award of nominal alimony (for example, one dollar per year), which can be increased later if need be.

If the parties agree that there will be no alimony whatsoever, the judge will question the parties to make sure they understand that the court will not be able to award alimony in the future if their circumstances change. The judgment may specifically provide for the reconsideration or review of the alimony award after the passage of a fixed amount of time, followed by modification if appropriate.

Security for the Payment of Alimony

Courts commonly order the payor spouse to maintain a policy of life insurance in an appropriate amount for the term of the alimony award, naming the other spouse as beneficiary, to ensure the receipt of alimony payments in the event of the payor’s death.

Types of Alimony

Courts have discretion to craft an alimony award in various ways. These are some common devices:

  • Transfer of property as alimony: Separate and apart from any division of property, the court may order specific property, for example, the payor’s interest in the former marital residence, to be transferred to the payee spouse as alimony.
  • Lump sum payment: This may be payable shortly after the dissolution judgment enters, in the future, or in installments. The single payment approach (as well as a single transfer of property) facilitates the disentanglement of the parties’ affairs following the divorce. A lump sum alimony obligation cannot be modified, and survives the death of the payor and any remarriage of the payee.
  • Periodic alimony: This is the most common type of alimony. By agreement, an award of period alimony can be made to terminate upon the death of either spouse, or upon the remarriage of the payee spouse. Unless the parties specifically agree otherwise, periodic alimony can be modified based on a showing of substantially changed circumstances.
  • Periodic alimony for a fixed term, or number of years: This is often used when the marriage has not had a long duration but there are other factors favoring the payment of alimony, when the payee spouse needs support for a finite period, to recuperate from a health problem, complete a degree, or train for a new job, or when the payor spouse will not be able to afford alimony upon retirement.
  • Lifetime, or permanent alimony: This type of alimony may be awarded after a long-term marriage, but it is becoming less common.

Contact Lawyer Edward P. Jurkiewicz Today

Hartford area bankruptcy attorney and divorce lawyer Edward P. Jurkiewicz has over 20 years of experience representing clients. Our firm represents debtors and creditors and handles both relatively simple divorces and bankruptcies and more complex litigation matters. With this depth of experience, our firm is able to anticipate and prepare for any potential issues that could arise in your bankruptcy, divorce or family matter.

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